As we approach Savannah's municipal election Nov. 3, the Savannah Morning News has been talking with the candidates for the City Council and Mayor. The four candidates for Mayor - Eddie DeLoach, incumbent Edna Jackson, Murray Silver and Louis Wilson - talked about.
"The overarching issue is the lack of planning on the city's part that's got us in this spot. They should have had classes going all along, and they have not. That's the main purpose of the government, is the protection of the citizens. We need to see the city manager and have an understanding between the council. We go to the city manager and say it's your job to have this done. If you don't have this taken care of within a year, we'll get somebody who can."
On long-term crime reduction:
"My long-term deal is an educational approach. We need to address those kids coming out of the third grade into the fourth to make sure they are reading on the same level as everybody else. I can't make it happen, but I can help it happen. Offer alternative locations, assistance and be the bully pulpit for the school board."
On minority- and women-owned business for city projects:
"Here's the key to the whole thing: local. I'm a small businessman. I ought to be able to compete there too. There should be an "L" (for local) because although I might not be a woman, I might not be a minority, I've got 100 people working for me. I've got to take care of them. So I'm out hunting business just like everybody else. We're all in that game together, and I think it ought to be a local business, having an opportunity, not just any particular group."
On her goals for a second term:
"What I would like to do in this next round is to work diligently with Chief Lumpkin, our residents and businesses, to end gun violence in the community. I'm hoping to go out and talk to kids in various schools. I've been doing that, but I want to do that on a wider scale. And to get our community organizations involved. The other thing is we have got to create more jobs when you have 25 percent of your people living in poverty. Our smaller businesses are the engine that keep us going. They may not be able to pay but minimum wage, but that's a starting point. But we have to get our major companies that are moving into our city to hire the local people, and that's what we've been advocates for during this whole four years."
On the City Manager:
"Her performance has been excellent. You're not going to find anybody without flaws. With me, they are saying the same thing. They're saying it about the council. It's a matter of opinion, but I do see progress being made under her administration."
On the city's use of consultants:
"In engineering, you have to have the best person. Everybody uses them. The Chamber uses consultants. SEDA uses consultants. The county uses consultants. It's necessary in a lot of areas."
On his call for a police commission:
"A police commission is a great way to restore the public confidence by establishing an outside group of former law enforcement to help root out corruption in the department. Officers can anonymously contact the commission. The public who is afraid to go to public affairs can go to the commission. Police departments are not designed to investigate themselves."
On growing the economy:
"The biggest challenge for the incoming administration: How do you drag an 18th-century city into the 21st century. We have been selling ourselves as the largest urban historic district in the United States. And it's been hugely successful. But you've still got this whopping poverty rate and it's not trickling down. The single thing that would benefit the greatest number of people would be to bring high-speed fiber technology to Savannah. Drop a ring around the city. You then facilitate the workforce. Impoverished people, you would then put them into the schools and put them into the jobs."
On whether political donors should be barred from city contracts:
"Absolutely. And we need term limits on aldermen. You cannot get rid of these people. My point is this. I answer to no one. I do not represent special interests, and that is what Savannah needs to understand. You've got status quo candidates, doesn't matter black, white, man, woman. They represent the status quo. The people who run this town do not run for office. They only have to run the people who do. My campaign perfectly illustrates how broken the city is. The status quo will not represent me. They don't own me. They don't run me."
On addressing crime:
"I'm all for a good strong police department, but when they start coming up with ideas, like hey, I'm telling you now, if you've got somebody in your house and they committed a crime, we're going to cut your cable off, cut your water off. That's getting a little far fetched. I was working for the sheriff's department. We would just get a warrant and go and get him. This whole thing with the prison industrial complex, crime is a socio-economic issue. I don't think anybody is inherent to be a criminal. I think when you've got nothing else to lose and no future to look toward, the idea of being a criminal is not important to you."
On his proposal to establish flea markets to spur economic growth:
"Imagine 100 people in that flea market with 100 tables and every day at 6 p.m., they walk out with $100 a piece. They're going to spend some of that money in that community. That causes goods and services to be demanded by that select group of people. Also that reduces the labor pool. So the demand would be higher for those people."
On his call for a high-speed train to Atlanta:
"It's good for the economics of our area. Everybody's going to ride it. The people that are going to call for it are the people that line up on I-16 every day in deadlocked traffic. I feel the last TSPLOST would have passed had that train been on there."